Elemental: July FAQ

By on July 23, 2009 8:53:43 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

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July is almost over and that means it’s time for another FAQ answer list!

Q: What are channelers and how do they work?

A: Channelers are beings who can harness the magic locked inside the elemental shards that are scattered across the world. When your faction (or an ally) controls a shard, you gain access from its type of mana (which is either earth, air, fire, or water magic). Channelers also generate on their own either life magic or death magic depending on the path they’ve chosen.

The maximum amount of mana a channeler can accumulate is based on their essence. At the beginning of the game, a channeler currently starts out with 20 essence points by default (though this number will change during the beta and will depend on how you construct your faction).  When channelers gain levels, their essence increases.

However, channelers can also (and as a practical matter must also) imbue things with their essence.  For instance, at the start of the game, your channeler will have to imbue the land with life (or death) magic in order to allow you to build a city on it. That means taking away some of your essence. Once essence is used, it’s gone forever so it should be used sparingly. 

Over time, the life force (or death force) that a channeler initially imbued in the land will naturally spread so each founded town won’t usually require the sacrifice of essence to create. However, if the player wants to quickly spam out a bunch of cities (which is a typical strategy in 4X games) it will come at a very high cost.

Channelers can also imbue their minions with some of their essence to make them far more powerful.

To learn more on this concept, see the Wikipedia entry of Morgoth.

Q:How is good and evil handled?

A: Rather than using the terms good and evil we have elected to go with factions that either align themselves with life magic or death  magic.  The Empires make use of death magic and the Kingdoms make use of light magic.

Q: Tactical battles, are they real-time?

A: They make use of continuous turns. This makes the battles play out much like a real time strategy game but without feeling a rush. The Corporate Machine was one of the early games to make use of continuous turns.  Some have said that Sins of a Solar Empire plays like a continuous turn game.

The idea is that winning tactical battles has nothing to do with speed or reflexes but strictly strategy and tactics. Players can control the rate in which time units pass, pause while giving commands, etc.

Q: How advanced is the mundane technology tree?

A: Players always stay within a medieval setting. There will be no space dragons or something.   What we see instead is the continual refinement of existing technologies. Weapons get better and better. Farms become more and more productive.  We are currently not intending for a tech tree to have any practical end though beta testers will have the final word.

Q: Is there going to be a lore book?

A: There will be announcements on this in the next couple months.

Q: Will there be priests?

A:  We do not include pre-built units.  What players choose to call their units is up to them. However, a channeler can choose to imbue a unit with essence that makes him or her able to cast spells.  However, players won’t simply be building armies of priests and clerics.  Those who cast spells are rare and special and lethal.

Q: Will there be summoned units?

A: A magical caster can summon elementals and other beings of magic.

Q: Is there a distinction between the sovereign and a channeler?

A: Yes. The sovereign is a channeler and can imbue units with the power to channel magic who in turn can pass on their essence to others.

Example:

The sovereign starts out with say 20 essence points. Each time he levels up, he gets 5 more essence points.

The channeler might choose to imbue a hero with 5 essence points to make him into a channeler. Now, that hero goes up N essence points per level too and could in turn imbue other units with essence points.

Similarly, since Elemental takes place on a fantasy world, a party of adventurers may have in their ranks a “wizard” or a “cleric”.  These channelers might choose to join your group and thus not have to sacrifice any essence to make them into channelers.

Q: How powerful can individual units get?

A: They can become astonishingly powerful.  Ever see the beginning of Lord of the Rings where Sauron is whacking elves left and right? Sauron was only a Maia.  Not well known but in Middle Earth, there were elves and man so powerful that they could take on Sauron in single combat.

Q: How does modding work in Elemental? How can I make my own creatures?

A: In most game projects, art assets are checked in through source control (CVS, PerForce, SVN, etc.).  In Elemental, we are moving our artists to checking in those assets as if they were modders using the built in UI.

We will have two types of assets in Elemental: Canon and non-canon.  Canon assets are ones we created. Non-canon ones are ones that players have created. Players will be able to pick and choose what assets they want in their games.

We won’t be putting elves into Elemental for instance. No unicorns. No fairies. No gnomes. No orcs. But if someone else wants to use Maya or 3D Studio and export it into the format we’re using (we’re using a standard 3D model format, forgot which one) you can put it into the game and then share it, within the game, for others to use.

Q: How was the economy settled?

A: We have taken the path of keeping it as simple and open as possible and leave it to the beta testers to play through.  One of the things we realized is that when discussing it online, people fixate only on the economy and thus tended to want to have it extremely sophisticated. But when playing the actual game, they might discover it’s better to have it simple.

That said, the key to winning (militarily anyway) will be controlling resources. Having an iron mine is good. Controlling 4 is much better, however.  How much you produce is dependent on how many resources you control.

Q: How will dungeons work?

A: We are still playing around with dungeons.  Realistically, we’ll probably keep them simple and then do an expansion pack later on that will make them what Scott (project lead) wants them to be (where players can literally explore a dungeon). 

Q: Will there be mega events?

A: Optionally. We are planning on vastly more types of events, quests, etc. than we’ve ever done before.  For example, on your 20th game you might come across a great tower that you can’t answer. The tower’s magical door sends you on a quest to get the key. Once you have the key, you can enter the tower which provides you with some strategic advantage.

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Unlike in GalCiv where we had to hard code special events, Elemental has an entire class dedicated to it so that we can add as many of these events as we want.

Q: Will there be mounts?

A: Yes. Researching Animal husbandry will take you to various types of animals you can ride from horses to wargs to bears. Researching those types of animal husbandries will then cause herds of that animal to appear on the map. If players control that resource (building a stable or what have you on that tile) their kingdom then has access to it.

When players design units, they can then “equip” their unit with a horse or what have you.  However, like any other resource, the length of time to build that unit will depend on how many of those resources you have. 

Q: Where does the game stand now?

A: It’s still pretty rough.  Right now we’re putting in the technology tree but there’s a lot of usability issues, cosmetic issues, etc. It’s definitely an alpha.

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There’s a lot of really basic cosmetic stuff that we need to resolve before a public alpha. I know it’s silly but it does matter (it is a video game). 

Magic spells aren’t in the current build nor are tactical battles (they won’t go in until Fall anyway).  The AI is still being API’d up for Python 3. Map generation still needs work.

But given how much time we have left and how much time we lost due to Demigod I’d say things are going well. Progress is swift.  I’ll be a lot happier once the beta is out (PAX).

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July 27, 2009 2:25:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Whilst in high school, I was continuously annoyed by how much emphasis was placed on social studies and language arts in comparison to math and science.  I've since seen the error of my view.  Reading comprehension utterly sucks.  Not that they shouldn't have required four years of math and science, I just no longer disagree with the requirements for language arts and wish they'd actually done something useful with it.

 

The part before the comma is important, it's a qualifier on the declarative statement.  He's considered one of the greats, generally the greatest.  When you see a list of influential fantasy authors, the guy almost always takes the number one spot.  The guy did a decent job of hacking up other stuff and building a world with it, but he wasn't anything particularly special aside from the false label of being first that haunts ill educated fantasy buffs the world round.

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July 27, 2009 3:38:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Edit: Bleh, the original removed. Pointless arguing on the internet. 

Clearly psychoak is the literary giant that no one else has heard of, whose understanding trumps all the critics in the past and all the authors that point to Tolkien as one the greats and a prime influence.

Perhaps you could grace us with some examples of worthy authors that didn't simply "hack up other stuff"? Perhaps Brad will see the error of his ways, abandon Tolkien, and use something more meaninful as his inspiration.

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July 27, 2009 4:54:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is getting more offtopic then usual. I don't suppose you can split the "how good was Tolkien" discussion to another thread? Please? 

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July 27, 2009 5:09:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I wonder how many years passed between the last time psychoak *read* Tolkien and the time when he came to appreciate the value of a well-rounded liberal arts education. Anyone with half a brain and a scrap of attitude can come up with crits of Tolkien, many of which are plausible, e.g. he had no real ability to conceive of female characters other than archetype beings like Galadriel or 'tomboys' like Éowyn.

On the other hand, that 'hacking up old stuff' thing psychoak so blithely dismisses is in fact a work of deep aesthetic and scholarly attention. Many modern readers complain about the book being 'dull' and going on far too long without changing scenes. Tolkien didn't have much respect for any literature produced after, oh, maybe 1000 AD. Epic poems were a great love of his, and his LotR project was in no small part an effort to emulate an epic poem in prose that a mass audience might like.

Mind you, I'm mostly a genre-junkie and can only sling shit like the above because some of my loved ones are 'lit-ra-chur' people. Beautiful prose alone rarely holds my attention for long, and I can ignore mass quantities of horrible, characterless prose if the ideas behind it are sufficiently interesting. As a brat teenager, I took great pride in telling D&D friends that I never finished Return of the King because it got boring. I was the boring one, it turns out. The man's prose is painterly and his fictional setting has a sense of scale and coherent complexity that is rivaled only by works like Frank Herbert's Dune.

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July 27, 2009 5:09:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is getting more offtopic then usual. I don't suppose you can split the "how good was Tolkien" discussion to another thread? Please? 
I concour. This is becoming a bit tedious.

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July 27, 2009 7:29:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

GW,

I just gotta say, I have always deep down held Frank Herbert and Tolkien in esteem in a way that your previous post alludes to. Whatever faults they both may have had, they certainly had an ability to not only tell a story, but to create a world (worlds in Herbert's case) that not only existed during the time frame of the story being told but there was a real sense of history, of thousands of small events happening over hundreds or thousands of years that brings the world(s) to the point they are at when the story being told begins. This is something that I think all authors of sci fi and fantasy aspire to, but few succeed at. As badly as The Wheel of Time was butchered by Robert Jordan with his "feature creep" (or maybe "plot creep" is more appropriate) he did succeed in creating a believable world that you did not read about, you experienced.

I just thought it was interesting that you compared Tolkien to Herbert, I thought I was the only one that saw them in that similar aspect.

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July 27, 2009 8:04:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As badly as The Wheel of Time was butchered by Robert Jordan with his "feature creep" (or maybe "plot creep" is more appropriate) he did succeed in creating a believable world that you did not read about, you experienced.

I long ago gave up on trying to fight threadjacking by others or avoid it myself around here--the Stardockia norm seems to leave the matter up to a given OP, and when the OP is a dev, there's no question that they don't have time to police individual threads for 'misdemeanor digressions.'

So, because I think Scoutdog and Tridus are swell entities, I'll not dig into the Jordan praise/shredding thing here. Other than confessing that I long ago started calling that stuff "Wheel of Crack" (as in the street drug, nothing cosmological) and I also think of Jordan as a  student of folks like Tokien and Herbert.

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July 27, 2009 8:35:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As if there's any on topic discussion to derail right now.  The arguments of merit split to a couple different threads a page back.

 

When I was a brat teenager, I had already run out of historical biographies to read at the school library.  I've never read through the bloody book because it takes less than a chapter of droll to make me want to kill someone.  Between an Abe Lincoln biography by a dry history professor from the late 1800's, and LoTR, I'll go with the former every time.  Prose becomes rambling when you don't stop after a couple paragraphs of it.  Crichton suffered the same drawback, although his was technobabble(often wrong) instead of scenic exposition.  His intro to the Shire reads like a nature show without mating habits.  I had trouble staying awake during the movies too.  There's slow, and then there's Tolkien.

 

Perhaps you could grace us with some examples of worthy authors that didn't simply "hack up other stuff"?

 

This would be the problem.  An actual original idea is a truly amazing thing, they're exceedingly rare.  This is why an above average, but by no means phenominal and wold changing author, is a man of mythic proportions.  Tolkien didn't actually create the new ideas poorly educated people keep attributing to him, his "new" idea was combining them all into one cohesive world.  The first epic fantasy to grace European folk lore and settings.  Homer, assuming a guy named Homer actually wrote Iliad and Odyssey, would be the one with the new idea.

 

Some of us are historical purists and dislike the continual inflation that happens when ignorant people attribute things wrongly to the first guy to make them popular.  Tolkien never tried to hide his influences, only his rabid fan base does that.  Kinda like Blizzard's rabid fan base will never accept that the races for Starcraft aren't original.

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July 27, 2009 10:57:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I couldn't really disagree with you more Psychoak. I can sort of understand your reasoning if you consider Lort of the Rings or the Hobbit on their own, out of the larger context in which they're a drop in the pond.

Tolkien didn't create elves, dwarves or orcs - but he did turn them into something they had never been before. For elves he completed several complete languages, each consisting of multiple dialects and time evolutions; all of which were intricately tied into the narrative and history of his world. For many of his other races he create semi-complete languages. He created art styles for the different peoples of his world - different groups of elves and men and dwarves had different, established forms of architecture, patterns, symbols and crests. For example, the props for the LotR movies weren't designed by some random schmo because they looked nice - many of the patterns and symbols and styles were copied directly from Tolkien's own drawings, and most of the rest were created based on his (extremely detailed) descriptions.

Dwarves and elves and orcs were around long before Tolkien, but Tolkien made them his own, and the vast majority of fantasy thereafter draws from Tolkien's elves and Tolkien's dwarves and Tolkien's orcs, not the elves and dwarves of the Eddas. That right there is quite the sign that he did something of note.

He created extremely complicated and intertwined histories for all of these people (and others) spanning thousands of years. He expounded on the lives and deeds of tons of great/important individuals. His lineages are as detailed as those in the Bible - you can trace Aragorn's lineage back through 15 Dunedain chieftains, 15 kings of Arthedain, 10 kings of Arnor and 23 kings of Numenor (and these are all extremely long-lived people), and then even farther past that. In fact, you can trace a few parts of his lineage all the way back to some of the original elves, and even to a Maia. And a huge number of the members of that lineage have their own stories told (those of the Kings of Numenor, for example, are tolled in the Unfinished Tales).

He created a creation myth (that I personally found as interesting as any historical creation myth I've ever read) and a pantheon of interesting gods, plus a whole host of other divine beings; and from there he details the rich history of Arda over the course of thousands of years, detailing the lives and deeds of hundreds of individuals...

The plotline of LotR isn't the most original in the world, sure - it's a classic good vs. evil story. But the descriptive and vivid way in which the story is told stands out. Yeah, some people (and you, apparently) find his story telling droll, slow and boring - but that is definitely not the only opinion. I'm actually just finishing rereading the Return of the King now, and I've never appreciated the series more. Last time I read the books I was a freshman in high school and I sort of agreed with you. But now, I'm enamored and can't get enough of it. I enjoy being given the full description of the Haradrim leader's banner in the midst of a chaotic battle sequence.

Not enjoying his works and/or his writing style is one thing. Calling him uncreative and unoriginal is just stupid - or uninformed. 

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July 27, 2009 11:38:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GW Swicord,
I wonder how many years passed between the last time psychoak *read* Tolkien and the time when he came to appreciate the value of a well-rounded liberal arts education. Anyone with half a brain and a scrap of attitude can come up with crits of Tolkien, many of which are plausible, e.g. he had no real ability to conceive of female characters other than archetype beings like Galadriel or 'tomboys' like Éowyn.

On the other hand, that 'hacking up old stuff' thing psychoak so blithely dismisses is in fact a work of deep aesthetic and scholarly attention. Many modern readers complain about the book being 'dull' and going on far too long without changing scenes. Tolkien didn't have much respect for any literature produced after, oh, maybe 1000 AD. Epic poems were a great love of his, and his LotR project was in no small part an effort to emulate an epic poem in prose that a mass audience might like.

Mind you, I'm mostly a genre-junkie and can only sling shit like the above because some of my loved ones are 'lit-ra-chur' people. Beautiful prose alone rarely holds my attention for long, and I can ignore mass quantities of horrible, characterless prose if the ideas behind it are sufficiently interesting. As a brat teenager, I took great pride in telling D&D friends that I never finished Return of the King because it got boring. I was the boring one, it turns out. The man's prose is painterly and his fictional setting has a sense of scale and coherent complexity that is rivaled only by works like Frank Herbert's Dune.

Quoting pigeonpigeon,
I couldn't really disagree with you more Psychoak. I can sort of understand your reasoning if you consider Lort of the Rings or the Hobbit on their own, out of the larger context in which they're a drop in the pond.

Tolkien didn't create elves, dwarves or orcs - but he did turn them into something they had never been before. For elves he completed several complete languages, each consisting of multiple dialects and time evolutions; all of which were intricately tied into the narrative and history of his world. For many of his other races he create semi-complete languages. He created art styles for the different peoples of his world - different groups of elves and men and dwarves had different, established forms of architecture, patterns, symbols and crests. For example, the props for the LotR movies weren't designed by some random schmo because they looked nice - many of the patterns and symbols and styles were copied directly from Tolkien's own drawings, and most of the rest were created based on his (extremely detailed) descriptions.

Dwarves and elves and orcs were around long before Tolkien, but Tolkien made them his own, and the vast majority of fantasy thereafter draws from Tolkien's elves and Tolkien's dwarves and Tolkien's orcs, not the elves and dwarves of the Eddas. That right there is quite the sign that he did something of note.

He created extremely complicated and intertwined histories for all of these people (and others) spanning thousands of years. He expounded on the lives and deeds of tons of great/important individuals. His lineages are as detailed as those in the Bible - you can trace Aragorn's lineage back through 15 Dunedain chieftains, 15 kings of Arthedain, 10 kings of Arnor and 23 kings of Numenor (and these are all extremely long-lived people), and then even farther past that. In fact, you can trace a few parts of his lineage all the way back to some of the original elves, and even to a Maia. And a huge number of the members of that lineage have their own stories told (those of the Kings of Numenor, for example, are tolled in the Unfinished Tales).

He created a creation myth (that I personally found as interesting as any historical creation myth I've ever read) and a pantheon of interesting gods, plus a whole host of other divine beings; and from there he details the rich history of Arda over the course of thousands of years, detailing the lives and deeds of hundreds of individuals...

The plotline of LotR isn't the most original in the world, sure - it's a classic good vs. evil story. But the descriptive and vivid way in which the story is told stands out. Yeah, some people (and you, apparently) find his story telling droll, slow and boring - but that is definitely not the only opinion. I'm actually just finishing rereading the Return of the King now, and I've never appreciated the series more. Last time I read the books I was a freshman in high school and I sort of agreed with you. But now, I'm enamored and can't get enough of it. I enjoy being given the full description of the Haradrim leader's banner in the midst of a chaotic battle sequence.

Not enjoying his works and/or his writing style is one thing. Calling him uncreative and unoriginal is just stupid - or uninformed. 

Those comments are truly worthy of karma!

 

Big JRRT fan here and I happen to agree with your positions.

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July 28, 2009 2:32:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Tolkien did an amazing job and what he wrote isn't bad. Yet, there are better books out there without the need of such extensive background for their stories. But as everything, that's just an opinion.

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July 28, 2009 9:20:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I couldn't really disagree with you more Psychoak.

 

I don't think you're actually disagreeing with me.  I think you're saying you like reading a twelve hundred page version of "Over the River and Through the Woods" based on how detailed the descriptions of the rocks and twigs are along the way.

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July 28, 2009 10:49:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Tolkien did an amazing job and what he wrote isn't bad. Yet, there are better books out there without the need of such extensive background for their stories. But as everything, that's just an opinion.

Lord of the Rings doesn't need its extensive background, either. After all it it became a mass hit before the vast majority of said background was ever published - its background was published because there was demand for it. I'd say it's a great book on its own, and it's phenomenal in its larger context. But still, we're back on personal taste. Still, I'd argue that whether something 'needs' such extensive background is irrelevant - it's like saying smaller paintings are inherently better than larger ones.

I don't think you're actually disagreeing with me.  I think you're saying you like reading a twelve hundred page version of "Over the River and Through the Woods" based on how detailed the descriptions of the rocks and twigs are along the way. 

No, not really. When I read LotR I feel like I'm drawn into a complete, vivid and interesting world. This is helped by his lengthy and descriptive prose and his style in general. The plot isn't original, but it's still interesting - and the rest of his world is unlike any other. I guess a way to describe it is that if LotR were a painting, most other fantasy would be flipbooks (in my opinion and taste, of course). 

Anyways, the only point that I was trying to make is that however much or little you enjoy Lord of the Rings, calling Tolkien uncreative is utterly ridiculous considering how few individuals throughout human history have created such complete and richly detailed works of art.

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July 29, 2009 7:16:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think Picasso sucks. But I will concede he must have been a great artist because everyone says so.

I had an art teacher in college that said that the goal of art was to try to evoke an emotion in the viewer, and if you conveyed the message that you wanted to convey, then you succeeded. In my book, Picasso must have wanted to convey "wow whoever painted these really sucks." Obviously he must have evoked different emotions in a great number of people, and they would probably say I just wasn't cultured enough to connect to his work.

I had a point, give me a break it is 5:00 in the morning.

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July 29, 2009 11:15:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

For those curious about the originality--or lack thereof--of stories, go read Joseph Campbell.  In brief, few if any stories are truly original at their core: they are all variations on common themes: the hero's journey; the return of rightful (just) rulership; the cyclical changing of the seasons; master and apprentice; etc.

Tolkien's stories--indeed, his entire mythos--was very firmly grounded in these traditions (most especially the northern European take on them).  The manner of the stories' telling, however, was quite unique for its day.

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July 30, 2009 5:51:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It probably helps that my favourite fantasy author is David Eddings, not Tolkien.

Well, that explains things ...!

I read both Tolkien and Eddings as a young teenager. As a young teenager I could stand Eddings and loved Tolkien. Years afterward I, like millions of adults, still love Tolkien, and I don't have a single dime to give for Eddings, who can't even write proper fictional prose, and that is a fact and not an opinon.  (Enough said about this side-track though ...)

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July 30, 2009 9:38:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting the Gorgon,
I read both Tolkien and Eddings as a young teenager. As a young teenager I could stand Eddings and loved Tolkien. Years afterward I, like millions of adults, still love Tolkien, and I don't have a single dime to give for Eddings, who can't even write proper fictional prose, and that is a fact and not an opinon.  (Enough said about this side-track though ...)
I've tried reading Tolkien five-six times now and every single time I get so bored to tears that I just can't keep going. I might aswell read a textbook on medieval poetry or take sleeping pills. On the other hand, I'd say that I've read the Malloreon and the Belgariad over 10 times and I still today curse the fact that I lended all my books to a friend-who's-not-a-friend anymore, because I've wanted to re-read it another 10.

I don't know what kind of "proper" fictional prose you're talking about, but I find it preposterous that Tolkien is supposedly the better writer because he can describe a leaf in twelve shades of green between Point A and B. I know Tolkien is some kind of Jesus to a lot of people and the Lord of the Rings some kind of Bible so I try not to offend, but I really don't see what's so special about him apart from a historical perspective as the popularizer of fantasy.

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July 30, 2009 10:14:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I find it preposterous that Tolkien is supposedly the better writer because he can describe a leaf in twelve shades of green between Point A and B.

FWIW, my point was just that calling Tolkien unimaginative was preposterous.

Claiming there are far better writers, I could certainly agree with. I loved the LOTR trilogy, but the Simarillion was so dull I couldn't finish it. Children of Hurin is pretty decent though.

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July 31, 2009 3:25:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Claiming there are far better writers, I could certainly agree with. I loved the LOTR trilogy, but the Simarillion was so dull I couldn't finish it. Children of Hurin is pretty decent though.

I enjoyed the Silmarillion for it's story, but I definitely agree that it was hard to get through simply because of the density and biblical style. But that's what the Silmarillion is essentially supposed to be: a bible for another world. And that's one thing that makes Tolkien special - most his works are more than just stories meant to entertain. They are in fact fictional histories, and are often written as such. And if you don't go into the Silmarillion with that in mind, you will definitely not enjoy it (and you might not enjoy it, anyway - it's not for everyone and it's definitely not for those who prefer lighter reading). The LoTR isn't quite so bad, but then its story is that it it's an excerpt from the Red Book of Westmarch - the book that Bilbo, Frodo and Sam compiled of all their adventures and then some.

To my knowledge, no one else has really done this, except maybe some of the ancient greeks. I could be wrong, and I'd love to be corrected if I am, though.

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July 31, 2009 7:47:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've tried reading Tolkien five-six times now and every single time I get so bored to tears that I just can't keep going. I might aswell read a textbook on medieval poetry or take sleeping pills. On the other hand, I'd say that I've read the Malloreon and the Belgariad over 10 times and I still today curse the fact that I lended all my books to a friend-who's-not-a-friend anymore, because I've wanted to re-read it another 10.

I don't know what kind of "proper" fictional prose you're talking about, but I find it preposterous that Tolkien is supposedly the better writer

I agree that Eddings is an easier read, and of course a lot of people prefer that, which is fine. But I think everyone should also have the guts to admit that there is a craft also to writing fiction, much like there is a craft to build a house for example. So there are some ground rules. And it is not difficult to show why Eddings is a much poorer writer of prose than Tolkien. This one is enough in itself: if you stick an adverb explaining how a character says something ("I hate you, he said ANGRILY") into a phrase it actually dilutes the force of the text. A good writer doesn't need these adverbs, because he makes it clear from the rest of the text how something is said (angrily in this case) and lets the reader imagine the details (which gives the reader pleasure). Eddings is sticking these tiring adverbs into his text from the first page to the last. It's easier that way. It's also crappy writing. There is nothing preposterous about stating that. Just try it yourself and you'll see what is easier and what takes more work (and a better writer).

I too love some really crappy (craft-wise) modern culture expressions, but I don't have a problem admitting then that it's not well crafted. 

Often only the really good stuff survive, and I am soooo sure that in 200 years it will be Tolkien and not Eddings that is still around as one of the masters. It's not by chance.  

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July 31, 2009 9:21:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting the Gorgon,

I've tried reading Tolkien five-six times now and every single time I get so bored to tears that I just can't keep going. I might aswell read a textbook on medieval poetry or take sleeping pills. On the other hand, I'd say that I've read the Malloreon and the Belgariad over 10 times and I still today curse the fact that I lended all my books to a friend-who's-not-a-friend anymore, because I've wanted to re-read it another 10.

I don't know what kind of "proper" fictional prose you're talking about, but I find it preposterous that Tolkien is supposedly the better writer


I agree that Eddings is an easier read, and of course a lot of people prefer that, which is fine. But I think everyone should also have the guts to admit that there is a craft also to writing fiction, much like there is a craft to build a house for example. So there are some ground rules. And it is not difficult to show why Eddings is a much poorer writer of prose than Tolkien. This one is enough in itself: if you stick an adverb explaining how a character says something ("I hate you, he said ANGRILY") into a phrase it actually dilutes the force of the text. A good writer doesn't need these adverbs, because he makes it clear from the rest of the text how something is said (angrily in this case) and lets the reader imagine the details (which gives the reader pleasure). Eddings is sticking these tiring adverbs into his text from the first page to the last. It's easier that way. It's also crappy writing. There is nothing preposterous about stating that. Just try it yourself and you'll see what is easier and what takes more work (and a better writer).

I too love some really crappy (craft-wise) modern culture expressions, but I don't have a problem admitting then that it's not well crafted. 

Often only the really good stuff survive, and I am soooo sure that in 200 years it will be Tolkien and not Eddings that is still around as one of the masters. It's not by chance.  

This pretty much sums it up. Although I am reminded a little bit about the scene in Dead Poet's Society where they are reading the "rules" for what makes good poetry, and the teacher tells them to rip that page out of their book.

Everything you posted is exactly right, and that is exactly what bugged me about Eddings - it was a great story that I enjoyed, but at the same time it was written very amatuerishly I thought. And my favorite author of all time, C.S. Lewis, in his fiction also displayed this amatuerish writing - but what makes C.S. Lewis great (imho) is the profound thought that he obviously put into his work and his ability to communicate very complex thoughts and principles to the layman.

In fiction, the two greats that I have encountered (as far as skill in their writing) would have to be JRR Tolkien and Frank Herbert.

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August 12, 2009 9:10:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This all sounds vastly wonderful!
This is my first post on the Elemental forums. I hope this is the correct thread to pose a direct question?
I was enthralled with GalCivII, up to a point. In my thread here,

http://forums.galciv2.com/127960

to which Brad made some excellent replies, I listed what I thought was the biggest dissapointments in GC2 and what I would want to see in the future. I would like to know how and if some of these elements are included. So let me ask in this way, if I may?
- Biggest dissapointment in CivIV building was that after a time, all cities seemed similar: you can only build one temple, one forge, one X, etc. per city. Will Elemental let us have lots of pubs in one town, but only one forge, and 10 forges in another town, but perhaps only one pub?
- Biggest dissapointment in GC2 building was that each planet only had a limited building capacity -- once "used up", that planet was "done", thus reducing my amount of fun decisions to make regarding that planet. Will that be different in Elemental?
- Biggest resource disspointment in CivIV: If you have access to one "spices" resource, all of your citizens, no matter if 10 or 10 billion, are equally happy from it. Having 2 is useless, unless for purposes of trading surplus. This infuriates me. Will having access to 2 ores of iron be more immediately useful than 1 in Elemental?
- Biggest construction dissapointment in unit construction in GC2: After a while, I found myself only hitting return to build warships and constructors. Since I like "peaceful" or "builder" or "diplo" wins, I found my lack of strategic choices deadening after a while: I would merely hit return and produce more constructors. The number of fun choices open to me which made a difference to the game decreased as the game progressed. Will Elemental have a late-game resource-sink for which to spend things and will Elemental require me to make real decisions in the late game?
- No strategy game can be fun if one particular strategic choice is always better than another: that's a "no-brainer", then that choice by definition is not a real choice, since there is nothing to evaluate. Will Elemental have many options open late game? Will hordes of whatever-wielders still have a real chance of overcoming a few select elite units?
- How discrete will the different victory conditions be? (Consider Star Chamber for a good example of three totally distinct victory conditions, each of which really requires nothing from the other two.)

Thank you for your time in replying.

 

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August 12, 2009 12:51:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That would go into the August FAQ, onomastikon. BUt hopefully it will be read anyways and maybe even get some answers.

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